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“GREAT PLACE TO STAY”

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ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios
Ranked #8 of 35 Hotels in Ocho Rios
Newark, New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“GREAT PLACE TO STAY”
Reviewed October 22, 2006

We just returned from a great vacation 10/16-10/22 at the
Rui Ocho Rios. The hotel was beautiful and the people of Jamaica are the friendliest people.

The bus trip is about an 1-1/2 hours long but Peter the driver gave us a great narraitive to the area along the way.

The rooms were pristine and nicely decorated. The food was great at all the buffets. The reservation system is better now you can book three days upon your arrival at two times in the afternoon. We dined at the steakhouse but didn't go to any of the gourmet restaurants. The other restaurants require men to wear slacks. .

The entertainment staff is great! The staff keep you busy all day and night. The pool always had some kind of games, dancing going on and the nightly shows were great. They seem to really enjoy what they do.

BRING SINGLES FOR TIPS BECAUSE THEY TRULY DESERVE IT. ARLENE IS THE BEST WAITRESS AND GENEVIEVE DOES GREAT BRAIDS RIGHT ON THE BEACH.

Our room was a ocean view, which was located in building #3 which was back behind the pool but still had a great view.

DUNNS RIVER IS A MUST! IT IS VERY EXCITING AND THE WATER IS GREAT! MAKE SURE YOU TAKE YOUR CAMERA.

OVERALL, I CAN'T WAIT TO GO BACK AND I WILL DEFNATELY STAY THE THE RIU.!!!!!

If you have any questions feel free to email me!!

  • Liked — Entertainment, Clean, value
  • Disliked — Alot of smokers, we are just used to not smoking in restaurants, etc.
  • Tips/Secrets — Bring singles for tips
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
28 Thank Kimberly B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Bowling Green, Virginia
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 141 helpful votes
Reviewed October 21, 2006

We stayed at the RIU Ocho Rios from October 14-21st 2006.

Here's a quick overview of my review:
We would NOT stay here again. While the property is beautiful and the beach very nice, the beauty only runs skin deep. The service ranged from fair to poor with the only exception being some of the staff at the kids club, namely Peta-Gaye who took great care of our son and was wonderful with the kids. The food was mediocre and even when the resort cleared out to low occupancy during our stay, the food quality did not improve. Dangerously undercooked shellfish, pork and sausage were just a few of the things that were culinary turnoffs. There was ONE bartender in particular who was always smilling, pleasant and mixed some great drinks (I can't remember her name but she was the bar supervisor). But other bartenders /staffers ranged from slow to downright surly.

In the end, we felt that the Riu was simply put together only for 'looks'. It LOOKS good, but it's good looks don't hold up under scrutiny. The food LOOKED appealing, but tasted bad or was under/over cooked. The staff looked good, well dressed etc, but didn't have the training or desire to provide the level of service we anticipated. Certainly NOT Five or even four star quality. I would rate this propety overall a 3. Our last stay in Jamaica was at Couples Negril and vastly different. While that property is rated a four star, it had it ALL OVER Riu in quality of service, staff and food. While the rooms at Couples were not as new or luxuriously appointed, I'd trade that in a heartbeat for service and food.

Read on if you want more details...


Here's the specifics of our experience and some suggestions if you decide to venture forward:

Before leaving we had read reviews complaining of the poor service at the front desk. These complaints were not unfounded. In our ground transfer bus, there were 10 people, all of whom were staying at the Riu. At check-in, we found a chaotic scene with more than an hour wait until we were finally given a room to check into. In defense of the hotel, it was Hero weekend (October 16), a Jamaican National Holiday, so the hotel was booked to capacity. None of us were able to obtain keys to the room safes (apparently there are not enough to accommodate all the rooms on the property so when the occupancy is high, you're SOL.) After checking on our rooms, 3 of the 5 couples were given rooms other that what they booked/expected. Since the resort was 'sold out' there was no ability to change. Within 15 minutes, 4 of 5 couples were back at the reception desk with room keys that did not work. It actually became comical after the second and third trip (at least to all but one couple who had initially gotten into their room, put down their belongings, gone to find a bite to eat only to return to find that their keys no longer worked and entire door key system had to be replaced which took 4 hours.) The door key problem persisted throughout our stay, culminating for us on our last day with our door system needing replacement too. By the end of our trip, it was a going joke between us as to who was locked out at any given time.

We stayed in an oceanview Junior Suite. While the bedding arrangements were not what we requested (we requested a King with a pull out sofa) and were given two double beds with no pull out, which required that one adult share a double bed (not a queen...a double) with our son who likes to spin like a bottle in his sleep, or that two adults get verrrry cozy in bed...we did receive a jacuzzi tub. This apparently is a special treat since there are only FOUR on the whole property (room 1316 in case anyone wants to request). The jets were great and our son had fun in his bath. The rooms are nice, clean and fairly well appointed. There are two sinks in the bath with plenty of counter space, our bath had a jacuzzi tub and a shower with handheld or hanging sprayer (good for washing little guy's hair). The water pressure and hot water availability was good, even when the hotel was fully booked. The towels were large and plush and the rest of the room ammenities were nice. We did experience problems with bugs. While this is expected in the tropics, the bug problem was worse than at any of the other resorts we have visited.

NOTE: AVOID rooms 1117-1120, 1217-1220, 1317-1320, and 1417-1420. These 'backup' to the tennis court area and SEPTIC so when the hotel is booked, the septic smell is terrible. One couple we knew had to bear the septic smell for a couple of days until they could finally be moved.


The 'deluxe' jr suites are all in one section of the property, all the way to the 'left' as you face the caribbean and the building is shaped like a horseshoe. As a result, I believe most if not all rooms do have a reasonable water view. The only disadvantage of this arrangement is that the vast majority of restaurants are a bit of a trek away. This can be blessing though if you're looking for a bit more quiet as the other areas can be a bit loud. Booking a Jr Suite offers the advantage of being able to book dinner at the Japanese restaurant Tushima, which is available only to those staying in the 'deluxe' rooms. There is a pool in the center of the horseshoe with a swimup bar at the front. While the pool is guarded, there is really no 'shallow' end for little guys so be prepared to be a hawk with small children here. The larger pool at the opposite end of the property with another horseshoe shaped building overlooking it (shown in photos on the website) also has a swimup bar, fountains and a walk in area which is safer for smaller kids but is VERY loud, with loud music piped in. This was too much for our son. The kids club adjoins this area too so be prepared, if you have a child who is at all sensitive to noise, as the kids club is innundated with it.

At check in you are given towel cards which you must use to obtain towels from the 'towel guy' poolside. This arrangement worked fine for the most part. You just keep exchanging towels when you need a fresh one. You MUST keep track of your towel however, because when you finally turn in your towel in the end, you will be given cards back and failure to return your towel cards will result in a $20 charge per towel. Over Heros weekend, there were several people we knew whose towels were stolen, as well as items from their beach bags. Since there are 846 rooms, at full capacity there are somewhere around 2000 people on property so keeping track of your possessions is really important. As a side note, this hotel does offer fairly steep discounts to the locals. In addition, staffers can offer 'friends and family' day passes and discounts.This influx of day visitors is another good reason to be cautious of your possessions.

Housekeeping was somewhat sketchy. While they did a nice job on the days that they came, out of seven nights two of them housekeeping failed to come at all. The first time, we let it slide...hey we don't make our bed every single day at home, no big deal right? But by day two (going on three) I was a bit annoyed. Finally by 11pm someone did call to check and see if housekeeping did finally come. Any by that time they had.

The Riu has quite a bit of private beach frontage. The beach is well maintained, soft white sanded and kept free of seaweed. Even at full capacity, we did not find it difficult to find lounge chairs beachside. I gather from other couples that when the resort was more full it was difficult to secure lounge chairs poolside. But we preferred the quiet of the caribbean to the craziness of the pool area. By comparison (by way of kayaking) we were able to see Sandals (Dunns River property) beachfront which was approximately 1/3 the size and was armored on either end with high walls and security fencing. In this respect, Riu did well in creating a more appealing property. On the other hand, Riu did little to dissuade the locals from coming on property and peddling necklaces, hairbraiding, shells and other less legal things. Many of them even greeted the security guards. Hummm...

The watersports (which we took advantage of daily) are run by Scuba Caribe, which is a private vendor with rights to sell tours, add on services and runs the included non-motorized activities. The included watersports consisted of three 15' catamarans, about 6-8 one person kayacs, 6 two person paddleboats, 1 four person paddleboat, and snorkeling equipment. We took advantage of all of these things, except for snorkeling, which we gathered was not worth the time. Apparently, the reef right off the property is pretty much dead so there is little sealife to be found there. We kayaked and paddlboated there ourselves and never saw one fish. But the equipment was in good shape, relatively available and the sailing in particular was fun. The wind pretty reliably picks up around 2:00pm everyday. Kayak in the morning when it's easiest to get around (and waves and wind are less difficult) and sail in the afternoon. The only annoyance with this whole process involved the 'deposit' thing which REQUIIRES you to give $25 US for each piece of equipment you take out (ie $50 if two people kayac or snorkel). They do give it back, but if you plan on spending any money here, you need to keep assuring you have $50 set aside for deposits. Also, everytime we went up to take out equipment, we would be solicited to do some kind of expensive tour (hey mon you been on de Dunns River tour yet?) Other than that, the sports thing was fun.

The restaurants were probably the biggest disappointment to us.
We are both very adventurous eaters and are accustomed to expecting regional differences in tastes and preparation, but this went far beyond that. Starting with the most basic of all things, coffee, I cannot think of a SINGLE thing this property did well in regards to the food. We reside on the east coast and as such, rise a bit earlier that perhaps some of the guests. With the time change (which at this time of year Jamaica is one hour earlier than my time) I was up and ready for coffee at around 6:00am Jamaican time (7:00am EST). The only place for coffee was in the Sports bar which is open 24 hours. It was hard to tell if the guests there were stil awake from the night before or if they were early risers like me, but in either case, the coffee was from a machine pretty similar to hospital coffee machine coffee...in a word YUK! The St. Ann is the only restaurant the reliably serves breakfast (although Mammee Bay is also supposed to, due to lower occupancy, it was closed all but 2 mornings we were there.) Even though they supposedly open at 7:00am, there was no chance of getting a cup of coffee earlier (or even on time for that matter).

Seating for St. Ann is both inside and outside. But beware, the waitress here will not serve you if you chose to sit at a table that they have not prepared for breakfast. This was a daily problem, since the only tables that they set were in direct sunlight. With the sun low in the sky, it was somewhat uncomfortable and the sun was directly in your eyes.

The waitress staff went beyond unhelpful to downright surly in this area. On several mornings there were no open tables left outside and still the waitresses addressed guests rudely for sitting in 'closed' sections (how a section is closed when it's 18" from the next table, don't ask me). We were left to our own devices at this point to find silverware, coffee, milk etc. No big deal really, I can serve myself. And for the most part at this resort you do. Waitress service is really nothing more than busing tables and clearing dirty plates, and occassionally asking if you'd like something to drink. Although for most restaurants even this is selfserve.

The St. Ann breakfast buffet is probably the best meal that this resort offers, but beware, it really doesn't change from day to day. The coffee is not terribly good (I drink Maxwell house guys, so I am not looking for Starbucks latte here...just a reasonably good cup of coffee) and forget cream or half and half. The breakfast ranges from eggs, sausage, bacon , selfserve toast/bread station, fruits, cheeses etc. Dairy and meat here were very different from US dairy and meat. Sandwich meats looked suspect as did some of the cheeses. Desserts are almost inedible except for the icecream which was plentiful and tasty. Do try the 'tiramisu' type of dessert, that too was tasty. Forget the things that look like cakes, they just taste weird and one of them was so bad we both laughed until we cried. (literally!) Be very careful of how the meats are cooked and be sure to look over the inside before biting. I am not afraid to eat rare cuts of meat or sushi and sashimi, but poultry, pork and shellfish should always be fully cooked to kill dangerous bacteria. There was a seafood dish at the St.Ann that had mussles, and pieces of lobster tail that looked appealing. When I cut into the lobster tail it was raw on the inside (not just undercooked) but raw. I had a red and bloody juiced pork dish one night and very pink breakfast sausage one morning. This just left me feeling very concerned about other food items that were far less easy to discern whether or not they had been safely and properly cooked and prepared.

I would compare the food this way:
St Ann breakfast was similar to Denny's breakfasts. Decent, but not great. Adequate and will fill you up. You can eat healthfully or junky so most people will be satisfied.

St Ann's dinner...poor quality, little or no variation, poor preparation. Comparable to hospital cafeteria food.

Italian Restaurant...HORRIBLE. Take the worst frozen pizza at your local grocery store (you know the ones with the dipples in the crust), pasta that has been cooked and left to dry under heat lamps, cheese sauce that you buy and water down by 1/2 ...yuk yuk yuk. Even my 4 year old wouldn't eat the pizza. My only advice to you is that if you MUST eat here, make sure that you come when they first open up so that the food is as fresh as it can be. No attempt is made to replace dried out, unappealing food throughout the day so buyer beware!

Mandalay Asian 'a la carte'. NOT! Okay this was ridiculous. You have to wait days to get into any of the a la carte restaurants because quite literally they seat approximately 60 guests per sitting (we actually counted...) There are two sittings 7pm and 9pm. You finally make it past the door and are seated where you begin to peruse the menu in front of you, when the waitress comes up to tell you you won't need the menu because....you guessed it...ITS ANOTHER BUFFET! Oh Boy! After waiting all this time...it's just a change in venue! Yippee! The food quality here is only slightly better than St. Ann. The buffet had chicken satay with peanut sauce (the peanut sauce was totally unrecognizable both in color and flavor), some egg rolls (which received mixed reviews...a few of the couples who we came in with on the tour bus raved about them, but both my husband and I found them to be too greasy and not great, but not inedible either.) and a variety of other items. The tempura shrimp was actually okay but we came to describe most of the food here and at Tushima with one acronym which was well suited...UFO Unidentified Fried Object. At one point we started laughing so hard, once again I was crying. I had to pinch my cheeks to stop myself. This is really no better than your average local chinese take out restaurant and in some ways worse.

Mammee Bay Steak House..was probably the best dinner we had at Riu. But once again....yeah you guessed it...it was mostly buffet. Soup, appetizer, salad and dessert were buffet. The only thing for which an order was taken was the main course. We both ate the tenderloin which was a tougher cut than we were used to but the portion was generous. The potatoes were once again dried out and over processed from sitting under heatlamps or some other 'holding' station (but we ate at 9:00pm so perhaps at the 7:00 it may have been better). The vegetables were uninspired and just unappealing. I would liken this restaurant to a Ruby Tuesdays or something like that. It will fill you up, but it is by no means high end or even high quality food.

Tushima, the japanese restaurant had the nicest ambiance for our tastes. Quiet, subtle decor, minimalist and NO BUFFET TO BE FOUND. But there were UFO's galore (unidentified fried objects). The sushi was edible, but I have to be honest...I get better sushi at my local grocery store! (Okay okay, I am spoiled by Wegmans, our local grocery store that consumer reports rated as #1..) but none the less, this is supposed to be the BEST this resort has to offer. It's kind of sad, when a grocery store beats out a supposedly 5 star resort! The teriyaki chicken skewers were okay...and the chicken dish was also okay. But all in all it was barely more than just 'okay'. Again, your average US chain restaurant TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays etc will rival this food and out do it too.

Sir Richards Gourmet...can't tell ya. Never got to go here! In 7 seven nights, we were never able to get in to eat here, but we spoke to dozens of other guests and one european put it this way "to call this gourmet is an insult to my taste buds." We gave up trying on day 6 of our vacation.

Some basic threads on the restaurants...Bring a drink or two in with you since the waiters typically do not go to the bar for you. You will only be offered red or white wine. (The red was horrendous and the white was only barely pallitable.) Also, the Tushima has saki so ask for it if you want some since they will not offer it or tell you they have it.

The reservation system has just changed. Go to the Bob Marley bar at 10:00am and make reservations on the day you arrive for the entire week. You can eat at each a la carte restaurant only once for each 7 days stay. A la carte restaurant reservations can be made in advance with the exception of Sir Richards which can only be made the day of...so if you want to eat there, get to the Bob Marley bar earlier (like 9:30) and wait. We found in the end it just wasn't worth wasting our day sitting around for reservations for a less than appealing dinner anyway. EAT EARLY. Food is often held way past the point of preserving flavor, texture or moisture content. Bring in your drinks. Sir Richards requires that men wear long pants as does Tushima. Men must wear sleeves (no sleeveless shirts) at all a la carte restaurants. Most ladies wear simple skirts and tops, a casual sundress or capris and tops. Lastly, don't expect too much. It's a matter of perspective and expectation. Don't expect food quality to be any better than your typical american chain restaurant.

The '24 hour' food comes from a refrigerator and microwave in the sportsbar. The sandwiches are similar to items found at Wawa, 7-11, or other gas station type pit stop. Unless you're completely drunk, starving or desperate, don't bother. Enough said about "24 hour" service. No point in even going there.

This property does have a kids club that we made use of while on our vacation. The kids club is open air and unairconditioned. We did find that for the smallest ones (must be age 4 to be left with the staff of kids club) it's very hot and exausting to them and there is no airconditioning for relief. While the kids club 'room' is shaded under roof, it is open air. There is a TV tuned into Toon network (or something), arts and crafts to do, child size tables and chairs and out in the sun, an enclosed sandy play area with a little tykes swing set and VERY small baby pool. (We're talking a circular baby pool that is perhaps 8' in diameter.) The entire enclosed play area for the kids is approximately 15' x 30' with an open air room that is maybe 15' x 20'. For a property of this size, it is clear they do not expect to have many kids left here.

But what the facility lacks in size devoted to the kids club, the staff more than makes up for. Peta-Gaye and Boom-Boom were both fabulous with the kids and made sure to take the kids out of the play spaces and take them on outtings through out the property. Kids always had the choice of participating on these outtings or not and often (for us) our son chose not to. Outtings were things like tennis clinics, swimming in the big pool, trips down to the beach with pails and shovels, trips to feed the fish in the pond and lunch at the restaurants. The kids club operates from 10am to 5pm everyday. We asked about babysitting services while we stayed here but the messages were mixed. The front desk quoted us rates of $25-30/hr for 1 child and kids clubs staff said $10-15/hr. The kids club staff however is required to work the kids disco which goes from 7:30-8:00pm. That means you are unable to make a 7:00pm dinner reservation and it seemed unreasonable to ask staffers to stay unpaid from 8pm-9pm then babysit for a 9pm dinner reservation only to have to return to work by 9:30am the next morning. This was clearly not a preferable arrangement for them either (we got the drift). And with taking our son to a 7pm dinner sitting he missed the kids disco by the time dinner was over. The timing for dinner and kids entertainment needs to be rethought here.

Bottom line, if you're going with kids, plan on having your adult time during the day. Evening dinners will have to be all inclusive (meaning kids too). Also, might want to expect kids to not want to stay more than a few hours at the kids club...it's loud there (see notes about poolside music nearby,) it's hot (no a/c) and although towards the end of the week they made an effort to provide a place for kids to lie down and take a break on some yoga mats on the floor, if you're kids need some downtime, be prepared to take them back to your room for a while. Our son needed quiet time in the room almost every afternoon just to get a break from the hot sun, loud music and lots of other kids. BTW...you can leave the property to do an outting with your kids in kids club. There were several other families who ventured off property while their kids were entertained on property.

I cannot comment on the entertainment here, since we did not have evening childcare, we were not able to take in any shows. ALL shows began after 9:30pm...too late for people with small kids.

All in all, we have stayed at other resorts in Jamaica and the Caribbean. While we love Jamaica and the Jamaican people and yes, even the slower pace of things here, this property doesn't even do the slowed down 'Jamaican' pace well.

By comparison, Couples Negril staff made you feel like family...from the groundskeeping staff to the general Manager. The restaurant Otehite was fabulous and rival in both service, ambiance and presentation some of the best restaurants we have enjoyed. The bartenders here flipped bottles and cups like Tom Cruise from Cocktail and had great personalities that engaged you and made you feel special. The strength of the Jamaican people, their generocity, personable nature, outgoing and happy disposition all shined in this environment and kept us craving more and dreaming of returning. Riu has long way to go rival this....there are some bones there...but boy do they have some growing up to do. In the meantime, better hope you get a bargain to come here because dollar for dollar you can do better elsewhere.

Still game? Here are some Do's and Don'ts for this resort:

DO bring your own cup for bartenders to fill. They will do so and the cups that they give you for drinks are about 5oz.. Cups are sold at the gift shop for $8US and are just like your typical 'giveaway' cup.

DO make dinner reservations upon arrival for any a la carte restaurants.

DO eat meals at other restaurants as early as they open as possible to ensure the best quality of food.

DO make use of sailing and kayaking equipment. Great perspective of resort and lots of fun.

DO plan on a midweek checkin if at all possible. The service at the front desk will be better as will the availability to get reservations at the restaurants.

DONT bother with bringing your own beach towel from home. It's not worth the space in your luggage and they can be just as easily stolen as the property towels. Towels are plentiful here.

DONT expect too much from the food. We thought we had a handle on this before we arrived, but still we were disappointed.

DONT expect childcare at night (even if you're willing to pay for a private babysitter). Unless they make some major changes to their kids club program or scheduling, this just doesn't work.

DONT waste a lot of time or stress if you can't get a reservation at one of the specialty restaurants. You aren't missing much.

DONT overspend for this resort. While this property has the potential to be terrific, it does not live up to it's reputation or its star rating.

DONT come here over Heros weekend. Overcrowding, poor service, overtaxed septic system make it a bad investment for foreign travelers. Wait a few days for the holiday crowds to pass.

Hope this helps.

  • Liked — The rooms
  • Disliked — The food and service
  • Tips/Secrets — Stay elsewhere until this property gets it together or get a bargain basement price
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
38 Thank cazadoptivemom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
maryland
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed October 20, 2006

My family and I stayed at this fabulous resort from Oct.7 until Oct.10. We were there with a group of fifty people and this place was big enough to accomadate a group this size, but intimate enough to have some quite time with your significant other. We stayed in the jacuzzi suite, which had picturesque views of the ocean and pool from two balconies. The cuise was very diverse and presented first class. I highly recommend the fire show at the beach party, the ladies will enjoy one of the performers named Superman. MY only regret was we did not stay long enogh, but we will be back.

  • Liked — accomadations
  • Disliked — n/a
  • Tips/Secrets — bring plenty of singles
  • Stayed September 2006
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
10 Thank rossini1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NY
Level Contributor
14 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed October 18, 2006

My boyfriend and I stayed at the Riu from Oct. 8-13. Overall, we had a great time and would recommend the hotel--it was the best and most beautiful in Ocho Rios for the price--and going to Dunn's River Falls. Here are the pros, cons and some tips we wish we would have known.

The bus ride from the Mo Bay airport is about 1.5 hours to the hotel. Not so bad on the way back from the hotel, but on the way there, it is kind of a tiring ride, especially after a day of travel and going through customs and immigration in the airport, which when we went did not have A/C, just some fans in certain spots (There was A/C in the section of the airport for outbound travelers). The A/C in the bus from the airport to the hotel also did not seem to be working very strongly, or at least how we're used to the way people blast it in the U.S. Also, afterward we thought we wasted a lot of time just traveling, when we could have spent that time on the beach--for instance, our flight home departed at 1:30 p.m. but we had to leave for the airport at around 9:30 a.m. to account for the bus ride, to clear customs and immigration, go through security and make sure we didn't miss our plane.

Definitely bring lots of one-dollar bills for tipping and buying souvenirs. No one ever seemed to have change to break larger bills.

Check-in is at 3 p.m., but our room was not ready until about 4:15 p.m. We went to eat at the Italian pizzeria near the lobby, but it would have been nice if we could have went to our room to drop off our stuff, change and freshen up. In the meantime, they just leave your suitcases in the lobby, with stickers indicating your room number. It seemed safe enough to us. The common areas of the hotel are open and also not air conditioned, though ceiling fans are present. Restaurants also have no A/C. Tip: if you're coming from a colder climate, like in N.Y., bring a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your room's not ready right away. We didn't and would have been more comfortable if we had, given the heat and humidity.

We had an oceanfront room on the third floor. The room and hotel in general were beautiful--we loved how new everything is. My boyfriend loved the in-room minibar and stocked fridge, though we barely used them because we spent most of our time outside the room. Also, we didn't feel like getting ice from the ice machine--way down the hall--to make mixed drinks.

The room did have a smell to it that some other reviewers noted. It's hard to describe--musty? the cleaning product they use? I don't know. It's not exactly bad, just noticeable. I only noticed it at first, but didn't notice it the rest of the time until we got home and our clothes still smelled like it.

A/C in the room worked--we were worried about that after reading some other reviews--but we had to set it at 50 degrees F (the coldest it would go) to feel it. Even set at 50, it felt like it was normal room temperature--not freezing--in there.

The ocean is very calm, warm and clear with hardly any waves--perfect for me, who likes to wade and float around, not so great for my boyfriend, who likes to jump waves. Some spots have more seaweed than others, but it's not hard to find really clear parts without seaweed.

At times, we thought the hotel is too big. Our feet were killing us after the first two days because our room was at one end of the complex and we tended to make multiple trips back and forth from the room each day and to swim in both of the pools, which are at opposite ends of the complex. We also wore flip flops most of the time, which offer little support.

We loved the food and selection at St. Ann's buffet--worried about that after reading some reviews. There are so many choices that if you don't like something, you can always get something else. We made dinner reservations only at the Mammee Bay steakhouse. The steak was terrible--over cooked and too tough. The waiter also seemed to hate being there. He just kind of threw our food on the table. Some reviews said you had to wake up at the crack of dawn to reserve a table at the reservation-only places. They've since changed that policy. Now, there are certain times during the morning and afternoon when you can make the reservations.

No problem at all with towels in the room or with getting towels from the towel hut for the beach and pool.

Chicken and sweet potatoes were great at the hotel's jerk hut on the beach.

The nightly shows/entertainment were pretty good overall. Some were: steel drum performance, reggae night, Michael Jackson show and a Grease show, which was the worst one--people poorly lipsyncing a few parts from the movie soundtrack.

We booked a Ocho Rios HiLites tour from the hotel to Dunn's River Falls for $40 per person. But be warned: The whole thing lasts from around 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but you only get to spend the last hour to hour and a half at the falls, which was the best part of the tour. It was so much fun and so beautiful. Remember to bring shoes like Tevas (flip flops or shoes that slide off easily will be no good) with traction for climbing the falls--it's very slippery in many spots--and a waterproof camera. Renting aquasocks was $5 at one of the vendors. Taj Mahal mall--a stop on the tour before the falls--had water shoes you could buy for $10. Also, the tour operator told us to leave everything we didn't want to get wet on the bus. You get pretty wet during the climb.

The rest of the HiLites tour is spent touring/driving around Ocho Rios (which we liked), going to a craft market where you can haggle on prices (also liked), viewing Coyaba Botanical Gardens (OK), this Wassic pottery place (boring and a total waste of time unless you want to watch a 5-minute pottery demo and be forced to spend about 20 or so minutes shopping the place's gift shop), brief drive through Fern Gully, and 25-30 minute stop at the Taj Mahal mall (we wished we could have gone to Island Village for Margaritaville).

Don't forget sunscreen. It's well over $10 in one of the hotel's gift shops.

It sounds hokey, but we played the bingo games--each day, the hotel staff holds these bingo games--so we could win the prizes. My boyfriend won a bottle of Appleton rum.

The weather cooperated for nearly all of our trip, except for the first day, when there was an extremely heavy downpour that lasted 15 or 20 minutes then just stopped. No more rain for the rest of the trip.

  • Liked — The room, the food, the beach.
  • Disliked — The size of the hotel itself was inconvenient at times, but you get used to it.
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
26 Thank mln27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brighton U.K
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
Reviewed October 18, 2006

Booked late (like most) on Tompsons (UK)own web site ,after reading the reviews on Tripadvisor ,and wow we were not disapointed !
The hotel has been open a year this month ,and this group know what you want !!

First impressions were just how big the hotel was ,800 plus rooms .
But its in three spaced out buildings and there are so many bars and resturants we never felt it was a problem ,and it makes Sandels next door look like a poor relative !

Comment others have made hold up,it is trickey getting out and about unless you go on the excursions , the beach is pretty big but its more than enough for the residents of the hotel ,with a slow walk will only take you ten minutes one end to the other BUT its really nice, child friendly (shallow and sandy) and has plenty of palm trees for shade.

Sellers coming on to the beach are entertaining as they are not allowed to come from the water onto the sand (we only saw 3 during two weeks) but watching the cat and mouse games with the security is fun ,one guy used a mask and snorkel to duck down in the water when security came along funny !

The entertainment crew work their socks off ,get to know Chinaman , Littleman ,Junior ,Hotdog ,and the gang ,and try to teach them how to play beach volley ball they need the lessons!!

They are at the pool in the morning the afternoon ,then the beach (volleyball) then work the evening as well as part of the nightly shows either dancing or clowning around ,check out their six packs !! (Note to the management pay these guys more !! nearly every review mentions them ,they are worth it!!)

Take it easy at this hotel !! there are two big pools, one is not so noisy as the other (music and pool games etc)so you have a choice.
All drink is free, in the rooms the mini bar includes optics and stocked up fridge,drinks at the bar are not just local brands ,my wife drinks Pernod ,they have it ,Canadian club ,Jim beam ,no problem man.
Fabian, top bar tender !!

Food is more than adequate,get used to the booking system quickly for the speciality resturants ,yes you have to queue up from 10 (get there before!) but you can book two of them in advance (Thai and Steak ) The St Richards (gourmet) can only be booked on the day ,but try going reserve if its booked up,someone doesnt show and youre in ,life can be easy !!

Note you dont have to book for the huge St Anns buffet restuarant or the Italian pizza /pasta resturant. Four shops on site .

Go for it , go to Dunns river falls nearby and have a Jamaican no problems holiday .

Hi to Rob and Marie Ann from theUk(missed the chats)
Gary and Susie from Canada (CC and coke night was cool !)
And Dave and Cheryl from USA (will call if boiler fails !)
Malc& Carol 03/10/2006 till 17/10/2006

  • Liked — Quality
  • Disliked — Trickey to walk out and about
  • Tips/Secrets — Relax man
  • Stayed October 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
28 Thank Malc747
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed October 16, 2006

My boyfriend and I spent 5 fun filled nights at this fantastic resort from 23-29 September! I had done quite a bit of reading on this website and prepared for some of the things people found irritating. I found that to be helpful. Yes there is a long, bumpy drive from the airport; yes you may have to get up early to make reservations at the restaurants; yes some of the food is only "eh?", and the hard sells you get in the stores in town can be draining...but seriously! who cares? It's Jamaica mon!

The property was enormous and clean. Everything was very open and airy, leaving you feeling extremely relaxed and free. We went during the OFF SEASON, which I highly recommend. The troubles I heard most travellers had encountered with running out of towels or beach loungers were not an issue at ALL during this off season. All the staff apologized for the lack of a crowd; I guess they expected us to wish for more buzz in the resort; but we LOVED it like this!
we only spent one nite in the specialty restaurants. That was at Tushima. It was a fine dining experience but as japanese food goes, it really didn't cut the mustard. However, it was really nice to have a restaurant experience and the service was phenomenal. The rest of the meals were eaten at the St. Anns buffet. Sometimes it was mediocre, but there were some selections that were Jamaican in origin that were always fun to experiment with. The coffee was amazing. Loved it. One night we took a cab ride to town to eat at a resturant recommended by the cab driver. It turned out to be highlighted in our guide book as well. That was BiBiBips on Main St. I had the escovitched fish there and MAN that was spicy!! Try it! The service there was also fantastic and it was nice to eat away from the resort.

The Pool bars were the BEST! Nothing beats hanging in the pool with a drink (pina colada with Dark rum!) listening to the tunes playing at the bar. Oh my goodness!! i miss it sooooo!!
The drinks were very tasty, but in small cups! Bring lots of singles to tip the tenders, although they didn't hold it against you if you didnt tip.
We did a few excursions that we booked through the resort. It was so easy to get activities lined up, you can quickly spend a lot of money. We went to Dunn's River Falls by boat, climbed the falls, and snorkelled out by some reefs with the tour guide. We also did the ATV tour that brought us up to a cliff to jump! I didn't want to jump but my boyfriend did and he loved it. The ATV is an amazing vehicle!! Afterwards we drank some Red Stripes, had some beef patties and headed home. one day we parasailed.

The entertainment crew at the Riu is just incredible! they work SO hard and are so energetic. We saw the Michael Jackson show and even though it was a little strange seeing a reincarnation of the old MJ, it was very hynoptizing and fun. We listened to the steel drum band from the beach which was soooo romantique! and then we saw the Grease show the last nite we were there. We missed the beach party that was the next nite. I wonder how that was.
Anyway, I highly recommend this place. I would go back there in a second. However I would NOT recommend American Airlines for any travel! Because of their mishaps, it took us 12 hours to get to Montego Bay from NYC. Then of course they didn't have our bags when we arrived. I was not in the best of mood that first nite when we finally arrived at the hotel at 1AM. There were quite a few people that had troubles similar to ours!

But the folks are the Riu made up for it! We even made some pals on the bus ride into the hotel. Hello Ashley and Josh!! We highly recommend this resort and cannot wait to go back one day!

  • Liked — The wide open space of it all, the Jerk Hut!, the ocean view room
  • Tips/Secrets — Bring more single dollars than we did! ( $150 was good for 5 days of drinking and eating and being taken around and cleaned up after)
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
18 Thank ladydaniela
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Jersey
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed October 15, 2006

We just got back from our vacation at the Riu - Ocho Rios, Jamaica and let me just say that our stay was fabulous.

I read several reviews of the hotel, looked at the pictures and while some reviews were less than desirable I felt good about going anyway. That was the best decision we made!

**FIRST THINGS FIRST...THEY CHANGED THE PROCESS FOR RESTAURANT RESERVATIONS...YOU CAN NOW RESERVE A TABLE AT ANY RESTAURANT BETWEEN 10AM - 12PM AND 5PM - 6PM AT THE LOBBY BAR...NO MORE EARLY MORNING RESERVATIONS AND LONG LINES! READ ON...

*STAFF: The staff was professional and always had smiles to brighten your already amazingly bright day

*ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment crew was FABULOUS. They work so hard - handling the daily activities and then performing in the evening. THe DANCE PERFORMANCES ARE AMAZING!

*ROOMS/LOCATION: Our Junior Suite was impeccable and cleaned on a daily basis with fresh towels everyday. From an environmental standpoint, you can use your towels for more than one day to preserve the environment, but if you want fresh towels everyday, you can have that. The suites are wonderful and on the quieter side of the hotel. So, if you want more quiet and seclusion - opt for a junior or full suite.

*MINIBAR: We didn't use the mini bar because there are 12 bars strewn all over the main floor - Unless you’re an alcoholic and trapped in your room, you really don't need to use the mini bar. However, they do provide water and sodas in addition to the liquor.

*RESTAURANTS: We ate most of our meals at the St. Ann's restaurant and enjoyed every morsel of food we put on our plates. We missed one reservation at the Sir Richard restaurant but we didn't feel cheated. We canceled the other reservation for the Asian restaurant because we didn't want to have a schedule!

*SPA: The SPA was fabulous. My husband and I had a couples massage. He fell asleep during his Deep Tissue massage, and I was rubbed to perfection during my Swedish massage.

*POOLS: There are 2 huge pools and both have swim up bars with several Jacuzzi sections in each. The lounge areas are wonderful with meandering walkways lots of new lounge chairs and umbrellas as well as pergolas for additional shade.

POOL COMPLAINT - The pools are closed at 6pm for overnight "shock treatment". I understand the need to keep the pool clean and safe, but they could leave the pool open a bit longer - it's always nice to have a night swim under the stars!

*BEACH: Wonderful is not a good enough word to describe the beach. It's a long beach with coconut trees dotting the area and an abundance of lounge chairs. Not crowded at all.

*BEACH VENDORS: The vendors were very polite, if you didn't want anything all you had to do was say no and they moved on. They had 1 or 2 people on beach security which I thought was un necessary, but if you easily threatened then the security would/should put you at ease.

KIDS ACTIVITIES: There is a separate area for kids to go and play, paint, swings on the swing set, and watch kids cartoons. You can sign your kids up and leave them there for the day, but the kids I saw were bored and one was crying because he wanted to stay with his parents. My daughter painted a rock (which she treasures) and my son drew a picture for me. Then they played on the swings until we were ready to leave the area.

Each night they have a program that the kids participate in at the main stage. Also, they had a movie night for the kids but my daughter didn't want to go. I didn't mind - since she's only 4 and very shy.

Overall, this hotel, staff, entertainment, and restaurants are EXCELLENT. I would recommend EVERYONE I know to visit the hotel. We plan to visit this hotel next year and bring more people with us!

Regards,
JCA

  • Liked — All Inclusive Package, facility, staff, views
  • Disliked — pool early closings
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
37 Thank JCADOA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios

Property: ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios
Address: | Mammee Bay - St.Ann, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Jamaica > Saint Ann Parish > Ocho Rios
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Ocho Rios
#7 Romantic Hotel in Ocho Rios
#8 Spa Hotel in Ocho Rios
#8 On the Beach Hotel in Ocho Rios
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3.5 star — ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios 3.5*
Number of rooms: 856
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated in northern Jamaica, on the beachfront. Two 6-storey buildings and one 5-storey building. Surrounded by 90,000 m2 / 107,000 sq. Yards of lush gardens. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 10 Km / 6.2 Miles to Ocho Rios. 4 Km / 2.5 Miles from various shops. 105 Km / 65 miles to Montego Bay airport. 600 M / 1,970 ft. From a bus stop. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Diners ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Hotel Ocho Rios
Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica
Riu Ochos Rios
Rio Ocho Rios
Club Hotel Riu Ocho Rios
Rui Ocho Rios
ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios Jamaica

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